Blog post updated 02/15/2019
Ceramic braces or metal braces? What’s the difference? And which is better?
Ceramic braces are a common alternative to traditional metal braces. Like traditional braces, they are used by an orthodontist to help realign and straighten teeth. But are ceramic braces better than metal? Or a cheaper alternative? The answers to these questions is a little less straightforward than you would think.
So, when deciding between ceramic braces and metal, you may want to think through the following questions:
Do You Care About How Noticeable Your Braces Are?
Traditional metal braces are very noticeable when you smile, laugh, or talk. This can make people feel very self-conscious. Those feelings can be even greater if you have an important event coming up, like a job interview or a wedding. Ceramic braces are meant to be less noticeable, and so a good alternative to more traditional braces. (There are other types of braces as well.)
Ceramic braces have brackets made of ceramic or porcelain, or in some cases plastic. The brackets can be clear or else colored to be the same color as your teeth. Thus, they usually blend in with your teeth much better than metal braces. (People with lighter teeth do fine with clear brackets, but if you have darker teeth, having colored braces might be a better option.)
It used to be that only the brackets for these braces were ceramic, while the wire itself was made of metal. These days clear wires are available as well, making these braces even less visible.
How Active Are You?
Metal braces are known for their durability. While ceramic braces are tough, they are made from a different material. Unlike metal, this material can chip or crack. So, if you play rough sports or engage in other activities where contact is made with your jaw or mouth, you might want to consider going with traditional braces to avoid costly repairs.
Will Your Insurance Cover Ceramic Braces?
Consumer sites like Cost Helper put the cost of ceramic braces between $2,000 -$8,500, while traditional metal braces run between $3,000-$7,350. So, the cost is comparable. That said, some insurance plans might not cover ceramic braces or might prefer that you get traditional metal braces. It’s best to check this out beforehand.
(If you don’t have insurance, there might still be some negotiation room as well.)
Need help deciding if braces are worth the investment for you to begin with?
Do You Have a Sensitive Mouth?
Some people claim that the ceramic material irritates their inner lips. This could be due to the interaction of the material with their mouths, or due to the fact that ceramic brackets tend to be bigger than traditional ones. While such discomfort is rare, it might be a factor if you have a sensitive mouth.
How Many Corrections Do You Need?
Traditional metal braces can tolerate more pressure than newer ceramic ones. Thus, metal braces are recommended for a more severe correction. Ceramic braces can also take more time to align your teeth since adjustments have to be slightly smaller.
That said, both types of braces work on the same principles and are equally as effective for most cases.
A Note on Staining
Many articles on the internet mention staining as an issue with ceramic braces. The original ceramic braces did tend to stain (especially if they were made with cheaper plastic). The ceramic braces of today do not have this problem.
However, the wire on braces is normally held in place with little rubber bands called ligatures. These are used for both metal braces and ceramic braces. These ligatures can stain, especially if you smoke, or drink beverages that typically stain teeth (coffee, wine, tea, etc.)
So, Do You Need Braces?
If you are not sure how to tell when you need braces, we recommend reading "When To Get Braces For You And Your Children," which covers this question for both children and adults.
For most people, braces mean a beautiful smile. But they can also help alleviate and prevent long-term health problems. Crooked or crowded teeth are difficult to clean and maintain, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. Poor jaw or tooth alignment can cause abnormal wear of your teeth, an inability to chew efficiently, and excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that support your teeth. Braces can make your teeth look and work better, and are easier to clean.
If you are ready to discuss braces for yourself or your child, you can read up on our services in our eBook as well as consider Invisalign as an alternative. If you live in North Carolina, we’d also be happy to set up an appointment for an initial consultation.